In the time that I’ve worked for AfterEllen.com, I’ve heard several different reasons from publicists, actors and artists alike as to why they’ve decided not to be out. Some examples, from three different publicists:
"She doesn’t want to be a poster child of lesbian music."
"I hope the interview will focus on the band, and not focus too much on her sexuality. I don’t know how comfortable she’d be doing a whole interview focused on that."
"Sorry – no she is not open to discussing. She is very private about her sexual preference….ie: not out!"
And sometimes, they’ll just ignore us. That’s always fun, too.
But today is about celebrating those who are less concerned about how they are "positioned" and more about being themselves. It’s about anyone and everyone who has ever come out, plans to come out, lives out every day of their lives, from their personal lives to their professional lives. This is especially important now with the recent suicides of gay youth. Many LGBT youth aren’t comfortable with themselves or their sexuality. They look to public figures for that "OK," and no matter if you think that is right or wrong, it’s what happens in contemporary society.
I remember when it wasn’t cool to wear rainbows or put a pink triangle on your car because it was too mainstream gay, especially in the punk scene because they didn’t want to be a part of it. And now it makes me sad that there is a division between different gay cultures. There has to be a point of togetherness. We’re so busy arguing over the stupid little s— that we can’t get together and help each other out. We were kids at one time and the pain that you feel about what people think of you, for many kids, is their entire reality.
Also today, Wanda Sykes addresses gay men and women of color in this National Coming Out Day video for NoMoreDownLow TV.
In the last year alone, we’ve seen Vanessa Carlton, Chely Wright, Stephanie Miller, Brandi Carlile, Anna Paquin, Meredith Baxter, Kelly McGillis, Clementine Ford, Lady Sovereign and Jane Velez-Mitchell speak out publicly about their sexuality. If none of these women have affected you in any way, it’s likely that other women before them have, from Ellen DeGeneres to Sheryl Swoopes to someone on a reality show.
But you’ll notice most of these women have come out for all different reasons, on different days of the year. It was on their time, on their chosen day, their chosen way. And perhaps, today, is the way you were waiting for: the final push in the direction of authenticity and feeling free.
I’d like to invite you all to share your coming out stories in the comments below.
Mine is actually being published in Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Who Leave Men For Women, available on Seal Press this month. Click through to the next page to read an excerpt.